You've got money on your mind. Nobody blames you for that. Managing personal finances is a critical step in ensuring health, happiness, well-being, and structure in your life for many years to come. By establishing a budget you set yourself up for success. You will better prepare for unanticipated expenses that will happen in life while being able to set aside money in savings for luxury purchases and experiences later on.
Budgeting is no simple process, however. Many avoid it because they see it as intimidating. Just thinking about what intricacies you may encounter increases your heart rate and turns your palms sweaty. Masses of paper, complicated spreadsheets, I'm getting a headache just thinking about it.
For all those stressing about budgeting and how to best accomplish it, there is no need. Technology comes to the rescue! Online software applications are accessible with any internet-ready device, and many are tailored towards personal finances and budgeting. Furthermore, worksheets, computer programs are also there to assist you. So fear not, budget-minded, technology is on your side.
The best part? Many of these budget programs help you stay within your budget as they – or at least parts of them – are free! Here are some of the best free computer programs for creating budgeting worksheets. They are listed randomly and not ranked in any particular order.
Microsoft Excel via OneDrive
When Microsoft Excel comes to mind you may immediately think about the paid desktop version of the application. While that is a viable option for many, it's not free. The free option for those who are spreadsheet-savvy is available online through Microsoft's OneDrive portal.
OneDrive offers a free storage option for files online, and one of the tiers includes free access to a host of applications. This includes an online version of Excel where you can perform all relevant functions for budgeting. Track income vs. expenses, create charts that update data when entered, and combine worksheets to paint a big picture of your personal finances.
While Microsoft Excel may require more in-depth knowledge of spreadsheets and formatting, its OneDrive offering allows for a free option for the spreadsheet-savvy.
Mint is the original. The first. The one that comes to mind when someone thinks of budgeting applications. Mint shines in being not just a budgeting tool but an all-encompassing personal finance application. In it you are able to view your financial accounts, expenses, and everything else finance related.
The best part? All is updated in real time, allowing you to see where you and your budget stands at the present moment. With this feature it makes it easier to adapt to changes as they occur. Though you can access it online, it is tailored to iOS and Android devices.
My Spending Plan
My Spending Plan is a great option for those who want to plan a budget and have no further complications. It is a simple option for creating and staying within a budget. My Spending Plan also provides for email updates, alerts, and other notifications dedicated to keeping you and your finances on track.
You Need A Budget
You Need a Budget promotes a budgeting way-of-life more than any other application out there. It is based off four rules:
Accessible online, You Need A Budget is available to any with an internet connection. It also comes with a caveat: You will eventually need to pay for it. Though it does come with a 34-day free trial (longer than normal trial options), if you want to continue with the application you will need to pay a low annual fee. Not too shabby for an all-in-one budgeting application that motivates you to be the best you can financially.
Students, however, are able to access You Need a Budget for free.
Personal Capital, like many of these other options, allows you to link your accounts and follow along with your spending in real time. You can set your spending and savings goals, put your expenses into different categories, and plan for college and/or retirement. The downside here is you can't make any custom categories. You're stuck with the ones they provide.
This software has a lot of great tools available for free, just keep in mind they do have a premium version if you're ok with paying for the extra features. The free version has everything you need to effectively track your budget.